Going too long without a manicure may be more than unsightly – it may also be unsanitary. Manicures and pedicures keep your nails and nail beds clean and pretty. There’s a wide variety of microbial bugs that live to make your nails look nasty – here are the top there, and what you can do about them:
Onychomycosis – Onychomycosis is a blanket term for a fungal infections that affect the nails. It’s the most common nail disease, accounting for more than half of all nail infections. If you have onychomycosis, the infected nail becomes thickened and discolored, eventually turning brittle. Dermatophytes, a group of three types of fungus, cause most cases of onychomycosis. The fungus responsible for athlete’s foot is the primary culprit, but Candida and some types of mold can also contribute to infections. The best way to treat onychomycosis is with oral or topical anti-fungal medication under the supervision of a doctor.
Paronychia – Paronychia is a nail infection that attacks the spot where the skin of the finger or toe and the nail bed meet, either at the nail base or along the side of the nail. Paronychia can be a one-off experience (acute paronychia) or a long struggle lasting over six weeks (chronic paronychia). Acute paronychia is often caused by nail-biting, ingrown nails, or even a poorly-executed manicure. Thankfully, the treatment is usually a simple course of antibiotics. Chronic paronychia tends to take hold on fingers and toes that are frequently in moist environments, and can also be caused by fungus as well. Topical anti-fungal medication and avoiding the conditions that caused the condition in the first place are the recommended treatment.
“Green Nail Syndrome” (Pseudomonas) – Pseudomonas is one tough bug – it’s resistant to penicillin and some other common antibiotics. Usually contracted by people who spend a lot of time in the water, Pseudomonas colors your nails green or blue-green, typically in narrow bands. Gardeners, plumbers, and anyone who spends a lot of time exercising in tight shoes are especially susceptible to Pseudomonas. Cutting the affected portion of the nail and starting on a doctor-supervised course of antibiotics is the typical treatment for Pseudomonas.
If you want to avoid these nail infections, keep your nails clean and maintain a regular schedule of mani/pedis.